Aviation workers protest at Port Harcourt airport over planned privatisation

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By David Ejiohuo

Business activities at the Port Harcourt International Airport Omagwa, was almost breached yesterday, 31st /8/2020, as Aviation workers, under the umbrella of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), protest the planned concession of some airports in the country.

The FAAN workers, made up of the staff from the Nigeria civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Nigerian Airport Space Management Agency(NAMA), the NIMET and other agencies at the international Airport, were unanimous in rejecting the said Federal Government and the Aviation Ministry plan to concession what they described as the most viable airports in the country.

As early as 8:00am on Monday, August 31, 2020, several union members from the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN), the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) gathered at the airport for the said protest.

According to our Correspondent at the Airport, workers marched the length and breath of the airport saying no to the Federal Governments plans to concession what they described as viable international airports in Nigeria.

The federal Government and the Federal mMinistry of Aviation had recently renewed their intention to concession some airports in the country vis-a-vis the Dr Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Abuja, the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos, the Port Harcourt International Airport Omagwa and the Aminu Kano International Airport Kano.

While addressing the large but peaceful protest of the workers at the Airport the unions leadership said they were not opposed to the Federal Government and Ministry of Aviation plans to concession the Airport but was against the lack of transparency in the whole process and arrangement. According to them, the lack of transparency and the refusal of the federal Government to involve the Aviation work force in the concession arrangement smells rat and lacks due process. “what we are saying is that the concession arrangement is coded and has some hidden agenda and lacks respect for labour law”.

While still addressing the workers, Camry Jerry Abredi Victor of the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals describes the concession plan as a crime against Nigerians and a treat to the unity of Nigeria.

Camrade Felix Ohwoefe, the chairman, National union of Air Transport employee’s did ask; “what happens to the other Airports and what is the fate of the workers that have put in about 20 to 30 years in the service; I think they should start with katsina and Mina airports first because job losses loom in the Aviation industry”.

The Vice President of the union of Air Transport Employees , Camrade Ajuru Emmanuel, queried the urgency in the concession plans and ask “can it bring about the end to insecure in the country? Will it be different from the NEPA concession? And if they must go ahead with their concession plan they should start with the less viable airports and make it to compete with the big ones”.

Members of the union warned that they would head to the court in the land.

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